KENNEWICK — It’s great to be the first one on the block with a new idea — one that has other folks flocking to it.
Such is the suburban chicken who, like Sesame Street’s Big Bird, may be coming home to roost in your neighborhood.
Nowadays, according to an article I clipped from Parade magazine, it can be very chic to have fresh eggs straight from your own chicken coop even if you live in town. It’s part of the self-sufficiency movement and — as ideas go — very fresh.
I don’t want to ruffle any feathers, but I don’t think this is really a new concept.
As a matter of fact, when I was growing up in a 1950's suburb of Los Angeles where houses stood neatly row upon row, I had a backyard chicken.
My mom had wanted to do something special for Easter and give her young children a nature lesson at the same time.
For endless days, my brother and I hovered over the small incubator that sat on a corner table near the dining room. Faithfully, we’d turn the eggs as instructed while counting the minutes until we’d get to see our first chick.
Out of six eggs, only three hatched. That probably had to do with us kids tripping over the incubator electrical cord and sending eggs flying onto the floor. It was survival of the fittest with our clumsy help.
But in spite of a shaky beginning, my pet chicken, Henrietta — misnamed Hector at first — was a great learning experience. Eggs came from chickens, not from the grocery store. If you wanted an egg, it meant reaching into that nest while you hoped she wasn’t looking. Responsibility settled in as light as a feather.
And for a 6-year old girl whose world didn’t extend much beyond her back fence, I got to know the egg maker in a personal way. She’d sit in my lap as content as any dog, even come when I called. Looking back, my little hen probably knew more secrets than a locked diary. For me, having a chicken as a pet on my city block was a great experience.
However, please remember this if you decide to give a chick at Easter: My suburban chicken lived for more than 14 years.
She wasn’t a trendy idea. Henrietta was a commitment.